module specification

AR7043 - Advanced Digital Design Techniques (2017/18)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2017/18
Module title Advanced Digital Design Techniques
Module level Masters (07)
Credit rating for module 20
School The Sir John Cass School of Art, Architecture and Design (The Cass)
Total study hours 200
164 hours Guided independent study
36 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Seminar 20% 50 Seminar Presentations
Coursework 30% 50 Technique Research Document Text
Coursework 50% 50 Technique Research Experiments & Development Documentation
Running in 2017/18
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Autumn semester City Wednesday Evening

Module summary

Techniques (analogue and digital) in architectural design, representation and
production continually and rapidly evolve. The module does set a specific set of software tools.
This module will present a variety of digital techniques relevant to a wide range of design
agendas. It will also discuss the potential relationship of these techniques within their applicability
to architectual design. The student will be asked not only to master their techniques but to
demonstrate a critical understanding of the context of their research and its value as a resource
within their own work in related design modules.

Semester: Autumn
Co-requisite: AR7P40 Design Research and Technique or AR7P016 Design Research
AR7P41 Design Project or AR7P017 Design Concept and Proposition
Assessment: 20% Seminar(s)
30% Technique Report Text
50% Technique Research Project/Tests

Prior learning requirements


Module aims

The module will introduce students to a range of digital techniques. The module aims to challenge students to develop a competent technical ability within their specialised technique research. This specialisation should be developed either from one of the introductory workshops, their initial research, or a technique introduced/needed within their design modules.

Specific module aims are:
• To prepare students with a technical and theoretical knowledge of the advanced digital design environment defined through generative, iterative, formative and communicative techniques.

• To prepare students with the knowledge of specialized skills which aim to challenge and enhance their current design vocabularies/techniques. Supplying students with the knowledge of techniques and the critical assessments needed to appropriately invent, adapt and develop design techniques for use within their design modules.

• To demonstrate and teach advanced techniques in digital design, modeling, imaging, drawing and production.

• To research and demonstrate advanced digital design techniques including: scripting, parametric modeling, generative animations, systemic organizations, advanced geometric modeling, computational simulations and computer aided manufactured prototyping.

• To equip students with an understanding and ablity to use contemporary/emergent design principals and digital design techniques and how these effect/evolve contemporary architecture, spatiality, materiality and organizational theories. The module discusses and considers these techniques/theories within a wider theoretical and architectural context.


Advanced Digital Design Techniques offers the opportunity for students to research and developed highly specialised digital design techniques in relation to design applications. The development of these specialised techniques is partially self-directed and partially supported by the workshops and visiting consultants. The main technique-based research/development project should not only advance ones abuility to use scripting, parametric modeling, generative animations, systemic organizations, advanced geometric modeling and/or simulations but should also situate ones research within the context of design applicability. The content of the submission will be the primary digital files, executable code and/or digital model that is associated with the individual research technique. In accompaniment to these primary files it is important that each student/project also clearly document the process of development, execution and related contexts of their research. Standard formats will be discussed and agreed at the beginning of the module. Because of the diversity or approaches and specificity of research, students are encouraged to discuss with their tutor, the most effective format for the project.

Learning and teaching

The module is structured around computer workshops/demonstrations, lectures, seminars/ discussions and student presentations and tutorials.  The relative proportions are workshops 50%, lectures & tutorials 30%, seminars & student presentations 20%

• The workshops and demonstrations are held in an appropriate computer environment with students working and taking notes in groups throughout.  Questions are taken, at intervals throughout the demonstrations.
• Lectures disseminate information through the speaker, through slides and via handouts.  Students are recommended to take notes and questions are taken after.
• Seminars and discussions have relevant readings with topics or techniques assigned before the session.  Students are expected to participate and may be called on to lead parts of the sessions.
• Tutorials will be held in small groups with students discussing individual and related student work, research and progress on their final submission.
• Student presentations (within the seminars) allow for the sharing of student work.  Students disseminate information through speaking, slides and handouts.  All material is to be prepared ahead of time in a professional manner.

Specialists within the computer, design, animation, programming and architecture fields visit specific sessions.

The module meets weekly and session timetables are made available at the beginning of the module.

Learning outcomes

Upon completion of the module a student should have an advanced working knowledge and ability to use current digital design tools understanding the use of these techniques within design-research explorations. Specific learning outcomes are:

• Knowledge of the digital technologies used in the contemporary practice of design in architecture, particularly in reference to the design process but also including aspects of communication, collaborations, documentation and manufacturing.

• Understanding of the design relevance and applicability of investigated techniques and how these impact the design processes of space, organization and materiality.

• Ability to critically discuss theoretical and systemic understanding of the use of digital design tools in relation to architectural design, illustrating specific examples from their own design-research.

• Ability to autonomously use, customise and create/program advanced digital design techniques specializing in one of the following: scripting, parametric modelling, generative animations, systemic organizations, advanced geometric modelling, and computational simulations.

Assessment strategy

In order to pass this module each student will have to achieve a passing mark in each of the three assessment criteria.

Seminar Presentations:
The students will have to work effectively within small groups or individually. Students will need to present their Design-Research Project and associated digital design techniques to the rest of the module. Students will be responsible for organizing slides and disseminating presentation/research notes. In addition students will be responsible for leading the discussion based on assigned readings and discussion topics. The students will be expected to provide an informed critic and discuss the work of their colleagues undertaking this MA.

Research Document Text:
Students are required to submit a 3000 word supporting text for the research, experiments and development of their specialised digital techniques. The text must be explanatory of the process but must also be a critical evaluation of the techniques and processes presented in context to other digital techniques. The text must also demonstrate the applicability of the technique to the generative or formative design processes and or generative or formative manufacturing processes. The document must well structured, clearly referenced and supported by a bibliography.

Research Experiments & Development Document:
Students will spend a majority of the module researching and exploring design potentials related to a specific digital design technique. Students are responsible for producing a digital submission of their design-research process, technique research, and development and design-research outcomes. These submissions should include working experiments and screen captures/screen videos of their processes as well as the original generative files. The students will be also be required to submit a formal paper document. The students will be assisted on the clarity of communication and the organization of the digital submission and paper based documentation. The document must be clearly referenced and supported by a bibliography.



Because of rapid evolutions within the digital environment bibliographies are revised annually and disseminated with other module materials at the beginning of the semester.  Sample readings include:

McNeel, Robert  (2005) Rhinoceros Nurbs Modelling for Windows

Leach, Neil  (2002)  Designing for a Digital World

Callicott, Nick (2001) Computer-Aided Manufacture in Architecture

Rahim, Ali  (2002) AD - Contemporary Techniques in Architecture

Rahim, Ali  (2000) AD – Contemporary Processes in Architecture